Best Bets: Champ and a Longshot at Santa Anita

Fans watch the stretch run of a race on Jan. 27 at Gulfstream Park. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

America’s Best Racing and handicapper (and avid gambler) Monique Vág team up to provide horseplayers with their best bets of the weekend in a regular feature blog that will run on Fridays.

For some posts, Vág will try to identify a longshot play of the weekend, a nice opportunity to swing for the fences on a win bet or to take a shot with a show bet. She also will look for strong exacta plays for the weekend or occasionally try to spot a nice opportunity for other wagers.

This Weekend’s Bets

Saturday, Feb. 3

Best Bet

Santa Anita Park, Race 3, Palos Verdes Stakes, 4:30 p.m. ET

#1 Roy H: If you’re interested in betting him, due to the short price I would advise singling him on top of a trifecta/superfecta or singling him in your Pick 5 wager. This gelding is coming off of two ultra-impressive wins where he was easily drawing clear late and led to the Eclipse Award as champion sprinter. He certainly found his preferred distance, three-quarters of a mile, and he’s been incredibly tough to beat when racing at his best. I think he’s in a league of his own this race.

Best Bet

Aqueduct, Race 8, Withers Stakes, 4:35 p.m. ET

#1 Firenze Fire: This colt has been very impressive recently, and it’s great to see that he isn’t dependent upon a clean break or fast early fractions to win. I love how he has performed against some of the best of his generation and that he has multiple graded stakes wins already, while many others here haven’t yet raced outside of maiden company. He should be tough to beat today.

Longshot Play

Gulfstream Park, Race 10, Forward Gal Stakes, 4:43 p m. ET

#8 My Miss Lilly: She had a very nice debut on a sloppy track after showing some impressive times throughout her workouts. Breeding-wise, she’s fantastic and I see why connections chose to pay $670,000 for her as a yearling. It’s risky selecting a horse that is immediately being catapulted into the graded stakes ranks after one race, but I expect her to relish the fast track and improve off her first career start.

Longshot Play

Santa Anita Park,  Race 5, Robert B. Lewis Stakes, 5:34 p.m. ET

#1 Ayacara: I do expect him to be sharper in his third start off the layoff, and I expect him to appreciate the return to racing on dirt. He’s gone from dirt to an all-weather surface to turf and now returns to dirt, which is interesting and can often spark something. Adding blinkers today may help promote a cleaner break or keep him focused for the full 1 1/16-mile distance without distraction.

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